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The Crisis in Public Education – An Hour-Long Special


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* This show was produced and segmented according to the NPR time clock. See below for details and download files*

State budgets are strapped and deep cuts to public programs continue. And no system, perhaps, is on the chopping block more than public education.

University administrations are turning to the private sector. Obama is pushing “Race to the Top.” But teachers, parents and students are resisting budget cuts from the bottom up.

On this special one-hour edition of Making Contact, we’ll hear who bears the burden of budget cuts to education, and the driving forces behind them.

Downloadable files:

Billboard (:59)

Newshole (5:00)

Segment A (12:25 min)

Segment B (23:51 min)

Segment C (16:42 min)


David Lyell, substitute teacher and participant in the ‘March for California’s Future’; Naomi Spencer, parent, Ypsilanti, M.I.; Marguerite Higa, parent, organizer of Save Our Schools Hawaii; Scott Paulin, principal, Potter Valley, C.A. school district; Keith Canova, music teacher, Potter Valley, C.A.; Kevin Paren-chini, parent and teacher, Potter Valley, C.A.; Maria Johnson, coordinator, Potter Valley Community Center; Lisa Oden, parent, Potter Valley, C.A.; Amy Silva, parent, Potter Valley, C.A.; Meredith Randall, vice president of education and student services at Mendocino Community College; Stan Karp, editor, Rethinking Schools. Zachary Levenson, UC Berkeley Graduate School student and TA; Mark G. Yudof, University of California President; Laura Nader, UC Berkeley professor; Bob Meister, UC Santa Cruz professor; Wael Elasady, Portland State University student & protest organizer; Jonathan Sanford, PSU’S student body president; Jim Francesconi, Oregon State Board of Higher Education Vice President; Zaki Bucherest, PSU student activist; Adam Sanchez, PSU graduate student & primary school teacher; Christopher Newfield, PhD, UC Santa Barbara Professor & author of ‘Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class’.

Some audio in this show was excerpted from the film “Occupied Berkeley: The Taking of Wheeler Hall” produced by David Martinez and Brandon Jourdon.

Parents, Teachers and Students Respond to Cuts in K-12 EducationChild's Letter

Lately, it seems almost no state is safe from budget cuts to K-12 education. Furloughs, teacher layoffs, and school closings. Producer Pauline Bartolone gathered stories from those affected in Hawaii, Michigan and California.

Rural School Districts Get Creative on Furlough Days

Furloughs aren’t just a problem for Hawaii schools… Districts in more than a dozen states have cut back to a four day school week. Some Rural districts are dealt a double financial blow from state cuts and declining enrollment. While parents in the story we just heard want to end furloughs – and fast – one small town in Northern California has come up with creative ways to supplement their new found free time. From Mendocino County, Christina Aanestad has more.

Stan Karp on Rethinking Federal Policy

We’ve heard about the cuts and about how people are trying to rise above them. But what about the roots of the crisis? What are the policies that enable these hardships? To get some perspective, Making Contact producer Andrew Stelzer spoke with an Editor at the magazine Rethinking Schools.

Beyond Wheeler: UC Voices for Education as a Public Good

The University of California system is known around the world as one of the most successful models of publicly-funded higher education. In 1960, UC President Clark Kerr spearheaded the groundbreaking California master plan for higher education, seeking to make a quality education accessible to all. Yet some 50 years later, some say the foundation of public education is being dismantled through fee hikes and corporate funding.  Making Contact’s Pauline Bartolone has more about UC Berkeley folks who are trying to stand in the way of privatizing what was meant to be public.

Portland State University, Inc. 

Like other states across the country, Oregon is struggling with the question of how to fund higher education in a time of massive budget cuts.  The Portland State University PSU, has increased class sizes, and made deep cuts to student programs and teacher pay. But recently PSU’s president proposed a new model to solve the university’s budget woes: incorporation. Jenka Soderberg from KBOO has more.

Author Offers a History of the Privatization of Public Education

From raising fees to privatizing entire universities, nationwide, there is a variety of ways that privatizing public college education is taking place. As we’ve heard, the dismantling of California’s public system has been going on for decades.  Dr. Christopher Newfield wrote a whole book about it. He’s a Professor of English at UC Santa Barbara and author of ‘Unmaking the Public University: the Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class.” He’s currently in France where he’s working for the Education Abroad Program for the University of California.

For more information:

Center on Education Policy
Washington, DC

Civil Rights Project (UCLA)
Los Angeles, CA

March for California’s Future
Central Valley, CA

Philadelphia Student Union
Philadelphia, PA

Rethinking Schools
Milwaukee, WI

Save Our Schools Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii

National Education Association
Washington, DC

Portland State University
Portland, OR

Save Cal Now
Berkeley, CA

Solidarity Alliance

Articles, Blogs, Films, Reports, Other:

Choice Without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards
A report by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project

‘School Reform We Can’t Believe In’
An article by by Stan Karp, Rethinking Schools, Spring, 2010

‘The Fight to Save Public Education’
An article by Shamus Cooke, Counterpunch, March 8, 2010

‘Detroit: A Model for Nationwide Assault on Public Education’
An article by Joe Kishore, World Socialist Web Site, March 19, 2010

‘Budget Cuts Dimming Bright Futures
By Laura Christmas, Tampa Bay Online

CUNY Campaign to Defend Education (CCDE)

‘Occupied Berkeley: The Taking of Wheeler Hall’
by Brandon Jourdon and David Martinez

Professor Christopher Newfield Blog

Recession Realities in Higher Ed (Blog)
By Ray Schroeder, Professor Emeritus University of Illinois at Springfield

Reclamations Journal

Remaking the University (Blog)

Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class
A book by Christopher Newfield


Airs Above Your Station by Kinski
Warm Sound by Zero 7
P.S. by Chromakey

Plus more from Chromakey

Author: Radio Project

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